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A Food Journey Through Chinatown

45997748 - chinatown, bangkok, thailand - circa may, 2015:  cars and shops on yaowarat road, the main street of china town.

Regardless of where in the world you visit (well I guess with the exception of China), you’ll almost undoubtedly stumble across a Chinatown of sorts. Whether it’s Washington DC, my home town of Sydney, or Abidjan in Cote D’Ivoire, you’re sure to find a pocket of the city filled with Chinese restaurants, shop fronts and businesses. Bangkok is no exception.

However, there are three things that set Bangkok’s Chinatown apart from the rest of the world i.e. its sheer size, vibrancy and selection of foods. Without fail, every day of the week Yaowarat’s (Chinatown’s) main road is a hive of activity with people selling snacks, drinks and knick-knacks. For most people, they make their way down to Chinatown for one reason and one reason only – to experience the delicious food on offer. A magnet to Thai’s, expats and tourists alike, Chinatown is a ‘must-visit’ location for anyone that enjoys good food.

Every time I make the trek to Chinatown with other Webster University Thailand students I find that I consistently visit the same five places. These restaurants are not only excellent value for money, but they come highly recommended from my Thai university friends. As Bangkok locals who have been visiting Chinatown frequently for many years, I have full faith that they know only the best places with the tastiest and most authentic food.

Guay Tiew Kua Gai

Chicken pad thai

Chicken pad thai. Copyright: thesupe87 / 123RF Stock Photo

I normally begin my food journey (who am I kidding it should be called a food binge) at the beginning of Yawarat’s main road. Just a few steps in from the corner of Yaowarat Soi 6, you’ll find a small cart that serves the tastiest guay tiew kua gai (stir-fried noodles with chicken) that I’ve had so far. This family owned business has been situated here for more than 30 years during which time they have perfected this one dish. Opening at 7pm each night, it can get quite popular with lines beginning to form at around 9pm. If you’re hungry, I’d recommend ordering two servings, as despite being 30baht per bowl, the servings are a tad on the small side.

Yaowarat Toasted Buns

Yaowarat Toasted Buns

Yaowarat Toasted Buns. Photo Credit: K. Kaew Siwapat.

When I was first told about Yaowarat Toasted Buns from a friend I was a little sceptical regarding her claim that this place was an absolute non-negotiable stop in the evening’s itinerary.  To my mind, “buns with a sweet filling” sounds like something that I could pick up from the local 7/11 any day of the week. Oh how wrong I was!! With nine different flavors to choose from including chocolate, sugar butter and marmalade, you’ll definitely find something to treat your taste buds. With prices starting at only 15 baht per bun I can guarantee you that you’ll buy a few extras for friends back on campus.

Mu Toon Num Dang Mor Din

If you’re a vegetarian then this restaurant might not be the best choice for you. With a heavy emphasis on all things pork, unfortunately it is near impossible to convert the dishes here into herbivore friendly options. Packed full of pork balls and other various pig parts, their traditional dish (60 baht) is served in a clay pot with a rich and flavourful brown soup. The restaurant starts serving at around 9pm and is generally only open for 2-3 hours each night. You’ll find it directly across the road from the Kasikorn Bank – just look out for the long lines!

Lek and Rat Seafood Restaurant

BBQ shrimps

BBQ shrimps. Copyright: fotoall / 123RF Stock Photo.

Having eaten here on a few separate occasions, I think this must be one of the most popular restaurants in all of Chinatown. In saying that I’ve never had to wait long for a table, as the staff is ninja-like in their ability to serve food and promptly clear tables. Located at the beginning of Soi Texas, you can find just about any seafood dish that you can think of. I normally order the blood cockles, snails, giant prawns and squid, with a couple of standard Thai dishes for good measure. With all dishes reasonably priced, I suggest you order a spread so that everyone can share!

 Sweet Time

Thai dessert

Thai dessert. Copyright: vanillaechoes / 123RF Stock Photo.

I know exactly what you’re all thinking – how could I possibly fit in dessert after visiting four other food stalls already?! Whilst this concern is clearly valid, upon seeing the menu full of delicious hot and cold Chinese desserts, I’m sure you’ll find a small second wind. Open every night, Sweet Time serves desserts that are not only (somewhat) healthy but are just the right size to hit the spot. With English menus available and with photos on every table, your dessert choices range from super sweet to simply refreshing. Situated just west of Yaowarat Soi 9, keep an eye out for the big red umbrella.

The restaurants listed above are but a few of the hundreds of restaurants that are spread across Chinatown. No matter where you choose to eat or how far you stray from Yaowarat main road, I strongly suggest that you look out for restaurants with long lines. Even though this may seem counterintuitive, I can assure you that these places have the best food and are generally worth the wait.

Happy exploring and I hope this inspires you to undertake your own food journey!

Student Life

Bike, boat or bus?

Tuk Tuk, a traditional taxi in Bangkok popular with tourists

Living in a foreign country like Thailand can be fun, exciting, inspiring and even life changing! At the same time, however, living abroad is also fraught with unexpected challenges and daily struggles that you wouldn’t even have to think twice about back home. One of these such challenges that I’m sure you can all relate to is using public transport!

In many cities around the world, when it comes to transport, the options are pretty limited. In my home city of Sydney for instance, you have a choice of bus, train or an incredibly overpriced taxi. Other than that, you’ll be tying up your laces and be going for a nice leisurely walk to wherever you want to go. Bangkok on the other hand literally has just about every transportation option under the sun to fit your budget. A few of my most popular ways of getting around include:

Bangkok Skytrain (BTS)

BTS is a very popular choice of transport for Bangkokians

Webster University Thailand’s Bangkok Academic Center is located at Empire Tower in the vicinity of Chong Nonsi BTS station

Copyright: sritangphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

For most foreigners living in Bangkok, the BTS will be the main way you get around. In fact it was only after about six months in this city that I realized that Bangkok stretched far beyond the end of the BTS line. When you reach Bearing or Bang Wa you have in fact not even scratched the surface of greater Bangkok. Webster University’s Bangkok campus is located right downtown just a short walk from BTS station Chong Nonsi. On the Silom Line, Chong Nonsi means that you’re only about 5 minutes away from Siam and about 15 minutes away from most places of interest. With fares ranging from 15-52 baht, the BTS is a quick and easy way to get around.

Motorcycle taxi

Motorcycle taxis are a common form of public transportation in Bangkok

Motorcycle taxis are a common form of public transportation in Bangkok

Copyright: idealphotographer / 123RF Stock Photo

It doesn’t take you long on the ground to realize that the traffic in Bangkok can be horrible. What should normally take 10 minutes or so, can in fact take much longer, leaving you hot, sweaty and tired! In order to combat Bangkok’s traffic woes, in the 1990’s the Thai Government initiated a motorcycle taxi scheme. If you have a sense of adventure and can hold on tightly, a motorcycle is a very efficient way of getting around. A short trip to the end of the soi will set you back about 10 baht with anything longer directly negotiable with the driver. Some motorcycle taxi stands might also have a pricelist written up on a signboard near their bikes.

Travel along the khlongs

Water Canal Transportation in Bangkok is an alternative choice to avoid traffic congestion in Bangkok

Water Canal Transportation in Bangkok is an alternative choice to avoid traffic congestion in Bangkok

Copyright: tzido / 123RF Stock Photo

As a city built on water, Bangkok has hundreds of tiny canals (khlongs) that cut across the city in all different directions. Whilst this is not the most convenient way of commuting to and from class each day at Webster Bangkok, it can be surprisingly handy when you’re venturing to other parts of the city. The main route and perhaps the most popular in terms of volume of people is Khlong Saen Saeb. Stretching east to west across the city, the boats along this route stop at some of the most popular parts of Bangkok including Thong Lo, Ekkamai, Nana and Ramkhamhaeng. With fares ranging from 10-20 baht, the journey in itself is well worth the money.

Tuk-Tuk

Tuk Tuk, a traditional taxi in Bangkok popular with tourists

Tuk Tuk, a traditional taxi in Bangkok popular with tourists

Copyright: itman47 / 123RF Stock Photo

Probably one of the most synonymous symbols of Thailand (and Bangkok more specifically) is the tuk-tuk. In fact I’m sure that before you even stepped foot off the plane you had a pretty good idea about what to expect. These three-wheeled motorcycles with a semi-enclosed cabin on the back are a right of passage for most visitors to the Kingdom. If you have friends or family stopping by during your time here, it’s well worth the ride. My only tip however is “bargain hard and bargain often”. Many drivers will suggest spurious figures for short distances with the assumption that you are a cashed up tourist. Good luck and have fun!

Pedal Power

Bicycle riding in Bangkok

Bicycle riding in Bangkok

Copyright: ermakovep / 123RF Stock Photo

Now yes I know exactly what you’re thinking – “Bangkok is a tropical climate and there is no way I’m riding a bicycle in this heat (and this traffic!)”. Whilst these are very valid concerns, you’d actually be surprised at how easy a bicycle makes it to get around! With bike share stations situated all the way from Phloen Chit to National Stadium to Lumphini and Surasak, it is actually pretty convenient. For rides of less than 30 minutes you pay absolutely nothing. For anything longer than that then there is a nominal fee for each 30 minute block thereafter. After you organize your card all you need to do is tap and go. You can take and return a bike at any one of the stations across Bangkok.

Buses in Bangkok

Bus in Bangkok, Thailand

Bus in Bangkok, Thailand

Copyright: tieataopoon / 123RF Stock Photo

There are definitely pros and cons about the buses that traverse this wonderful city. On the positive side, there are literally hundreds of bus options and there will always be a bus that can take you wherever you want to go. The difficult part however is figuring out exactly which bus to catch and where to get on/off. Unfortunately very few of the buses have any signs in English and generally the conductors / ticket collectors will also have only a rudimentary grasp of English. This can make things challenging but definitely not impossible! Whilst I’m no expert, I generally try to memorize the bus numbers, cross my fingers, and utilize Google Maps! My two favorite buses are the bus from Victory Monument to Don Mueang Airport (17 baht what a bargain!) and bus number 62 from Phloen Chit to Sathorn. Each and every time I’ve found the staff extremely friendly and it is also a great way to practice my Thai!

No matter how you decide to get around, one thing’s for sure – you’ll have fun whilst doing it! Each and every option provides you with a different perspective of Bangkok and will undoubtedly make you feel more like a local every day!

Student Life

A Not So White Christmas in Bangkok

Rama VIII bridge, Bangkok, Thailand

Given that Bangkok is a huge city that is full of amazing restaurants, bars and clubs there are plenty of places to choose from for Christmas dinner and to welcome in the New Year!

As I turned the last page of my 2016 desk calendar just a few weeks ago, I came to the realization that we had arrived at ‘that time of year’ again. The time of year when I need to decide where to have my Christmas dinner and where to welcome in the New Year! Luckily, given that Bangkok is a huge city that is full of amazing restaurants, bars and clubs, it’s not too hard to find lots of places that suit my budget and my tastes.

 

Each Christmas I spend in Bangkok, I always like to begin with the same ritual of wandering the streets of Siam and Chidlom at night, soaking up the light displays and Christmas decorations on display. Being right in the center of the city’s commercial district, it is also extra convenient to pick up some last minute Christmas gifts for friends and family back home…and sometimes also something for myself!

 

Travelling from Webster University Thailand’s Bangkok Campus is easy – simply catch the BTS skytrain from Chong Nonsi to Siam and viola! After disembarking at Siam it is a direct walk straight down Sukhumvit Road to CentralWorld at Chidlom, home to Bangkok’s most iconic Christmas tree. Whilst you will have battle with the inevitable crowds, there are plenty of restaurants, malls and cafés to explore along the way for some respite.

 

As with many international students at Webster University Thailand, the prospect of spending Christmas far away from close friends and family can seem a little daunting. However, there are so many great places to enjoy Christmas dinner with your Bangkok family that you’ll hardly notice you’re not home. Most major hotels for instance offer a buffet dinner of just about every food you could possibly imagine. Many also include drinks and other optional extras.

 

If you’re after something a little more low-key and easy on the wallet then perhaps you may want to make your way down to Chinatown. Accessible by either the MRT underground train or by taxi, Chinatown not only has 101 amazing restaurants and bars to choose from, but is also has an atmosphere quite unique to the rest of Bangkok. My personal favorite is Tang Jai Yoo restaurant, an establishment that cooks up a delicious suckling pig that is perfect for sharing with a big group of friends.

 

After the food coma of Christmas passes, it is time for the next big holiday celebration – New Years Eve. For most people in Bangkok that means heading out for a few drinks with a group of friends and counting down until 2017 rolls in. There is definitely no shortage of places to celebrate this event no matter what your have in mind. With only a couple of weeks until 2017 is upon us, here are a few suggestions for how you might like to spend it:

 

New Years with a View

Le Bua State Tower, Bangkok, Thailand

Lebua State Tower, Bangkok, Thailand

Perhaps the most popular way to ring in the New Year is with some drinks atop one of Bangkok’s famed rooftop bars. With a number of bars spread right across the city, the hardest thing you’ll have to do is to decide which one you want to visit. The two most famous ones located near Webster University Thailand’s Bangkok Campus is the Banyan Tree Bangkok and the Lebua Hotel rooftop bars. Unfortunately, because it is NYE, most rooftop bars across the city only offer a set menu and it can get pricey! Some smaller bars like the SkyTrain Jazz Bar at Victory Monument offer a more chilled vibe and are definitely less harsh on the wallet.

 

Waterside Celebrations

Asiatique The Riverfront, Bangkok

Asiatique The Riverfront, Bangkok

Another popular spot to ring in the New Year is by the stunning Chao Phraya River at Asiatique. Located relatively close to Webster University Thailand, it is only a short BTS ride to Saphan Taksin followed by the free boat to the Asiatique Pier. Starting at 5.00pm, expect an evening of premium food and drinks, night markets and the classic New Years Eve countdown. If you have somewhere in mind that you’d like to eat, it’s recommended that you book ahead as seats fill up fast. For those willing to take a chance, there are also plenty of market stalls to ensure you are adequately fed and hydrated.

 

Party like it’s 1999

Nightclub at RCA, Bangkok

Nightclub at RCA, Bangkok

For some, New Years Eve is a time to truly let their hair down and have some fun. One of the best and most conveniently located places to do this is at the pumping Royal City Avenue, more commonly referred to as RCA. With a strong lineup of local and international DJs, it doesn’t really matter which place you wander into. Each place will be throbbing until the early hours and will provide you with a chance to celebrate 2016 and officially welcome in the New Year.

No matter where you choose to celebrate, one thing’s for certain – you’ll have a memorable evening surrounded by good music, food, friends and drinks. You really can’t go wrong!

See you all in 2017 and enjoy the holidays!

Student Life

5 places you must visit in Thailand

WUT Bangkok

1. Buddha Images engrave in sandstone cliff, Nakhon Ratchasima

If you think of a province in the northeastern part of Thailand which is the closest to Bangkok, of course, you think of Nakhon Ratchasima or Korat. But not many people will know that in Nonsomboon sub-district, Serngsang District there are Buddha images engraved in the sandstone cliff. One is meditation posture and another is sleeping posture. Those are Bas Relief carved on the cliff of Subpongpot Mountain. Moreover, there is a stunning rain forest surrounding the area for those who enjoy walking or relaxing with an increedible view. Nearby, there is view point on the top of Padaeng Mountain where you can see a panorama scene of Serngsang District.

WUT Bangkok Blog Buddha 1

2. Pupaman National Park, Khon Kaen

When talking about Khonkaen,there are many famous tourist attractions. Not only a historical place of Jurassic era but also Pupaman National Park that covers some parts of Khonkaen and Loei. The forest state in the national park is plentiful, but there are also many adventure activities to enjoy. There are also numerous Bat caves to be found, housing millions of small bats. If you’re around at six o’clock when the sun goes down you will be amazed at the incredible sight as the bats wake up and head off into the night in search of food. There is beautiful waterfall named Tadfa located between boundary of Pupama sub-district and Namnao sub-district. It has 5 levels, the highest level is 80 meters, which swells during rainy season and is certainly the most beautiful time to see it. Next to the waterfall, you will find the great Naga cave, inside the cave there are stalagmites and stalactites embedded with shining minerals and ore, this cave is serpentine like the great Naga and is approximately 1 kilometer long.

Webster University Thailand Blog - Khon Kaen

3. Kampaengpet National Museum

If you want to travel to the northern most parts of Thailand, you will surely drive through Kampaengpet province, the well-known province of the famous Thai dessert called Kra-ya-sart. But there are also many tourist attractions to see. The National Museum of Kampaengpet holds and exhibits antiques and object d’Art in different periods such as Dhavaravati, Lopburi and Rattanakosin. Most of antiques are stucco, pottery, head sculptures of Buddha imagse, molded lime of Giants and men in literature decorated in the foundation of pagoda or temple. Moreover, there is bronzed statue of God Shiva which has been badly damaged over the centuries but has recently undergone reparation.

Wesbter Blog - Kampaengpet Museum

4. Kampaengpet National Park

If you check out Kampaengpet Museum, you should definitely explore Kampaengpet further. Not only is it the ancient capital as Sukhothai, but the walls of Kampaengpet are famous for being the first line of defence of Thailand against her enemies. Whenever enemy troops came to the city, brave warriors and villagers would fight to death to protect their homes and city. The historical park of Kampaengpet has been announced officially by (UNESCO) and holds world’s heritage status since December 12th, 1991.

Webster Thailand - Kampaengpet National Park

5. The 6th developed station of mangrove forests.

If you travel to the west side of Thailand, you will travel through Pethcaburi province, home to the 6th Developed station of mangrove forest in Thailand. Within the Bangkhunsai district, there is a wonderful community of ecotourism and eco-study where people study the thriving mangrove forests. Within the stattion there are huge varieties of woods, types of birds, fish and other wildlife. You can also learn more about the way of life of fishermen in the area. Moreover, this place is also known as the biggest natural area for cockle in Thailand. Tourists can see and learn how to collect cockles by using methods and wisdom of the local people passed down through generations.

WUT Blog - Petchaburi Thailand

 

Student Life

Things to do in Bangkok

Webster Thailand

 

Chatuchak Market

Chatuchak’s weekend markets are legendary! Whether you love food or love hunting for bargains, Chatuchak’s sprawling outdoor and indoor bazaar has something for everyone. The market is broken down into sections and soi’s. Antiques & Collectibles, Clothing (by far the most prolific), Eating & Drinking, Decor & Housewares, Plants & Gardening, there is even a section for Pets & Animals. To get to Chatuchak, take the BTS to Mo Chit (final stop) or take the MRT to Chatuchak and take the Market exit.We recommend getting their early as it can get VERY hot after midday!

MBK Shopping Centre

If can’t find what you want at Chatuckhak, you will surely find it at MBK! Whether you’re looking for cellphones, IT , clothes, bags, computers, jewellery, food, MBK has everything. Do be careful about buying genuine items, but if a brand label isn’t important to you, then MBK is your paradise. You can also catch live Muay Thai fights outside the National Stadium.

It is very easy to get to MBK, it even has a BTS exit leading directly into the 2nd floor. Hop on the BTS until you reach National Stadium station (final stop).

Grand Palace

One place you MUST visit when you are in Bangkok is the Grand Palace. The beauty of the architecture and incredible design and decoration will amaze you. The residence of every King of Thailand since King Rama I founded the Chakri dynasty, and home to the Emerald Buddha, this is truly one of the jewels of Bangkok.

There is a riverboat service you can take that drops you at the pier of Tha Chang, or alternatively, jump in a taxi anywhere in the city, EVERY taxi driver knows the Grand Palace…

Nightlife

Bangkok never sleeps! Nightlife in Bangkok deserves a blog all of its own, of which there are many already. Nightclubs, Live Music, Muay Thai events, street bars…there is something for everyone. Like live music? The Australian bar in Nana Soi 11 is a good choice. Like the lights low and the volume up?.. try Sugar Club or Insanity. If you prefer to chill out with a cocktail whilst enjoying the stunning Bangkok skyline, check out Skybar, Banyan Tree or Moon Bar.

There is SO much to do, its impossible to cover it all. Check out TripAdvisor and some of the Top Ten blogs, we can guarantee there will be a blog or list dedicated to your passion…

Street Food

Thailand is often called as kitchen of world, and the breadbasket of Asia. The food of Thailand bursts with flavour, and very little is served without lashings of chilli, garlic, lemongrass and spices.
Street food in Thailand is legendary. Travel down almost ANY soi, and you will find a variety of stalls offering mouthwatering dishes at incredible prices. Tasty food is everywhere! Grilled pork, fish, chicken, beef, noodles, spicy papaya salad, BBQ, you name it, a street stall will have it.

 

Student Life

So you’ve just graduated…

Webster University Thailand - After you've graduated

When i was in High School, my teachers and parents instilled the idea that if i worked hard at school, went to a good University and graduated with a respectable degree, then the world would somehow fall at my feet.

But while i’m clearing my room for the last time, carefully prising off photos of treasured memories from the wall, reluctantly throwing that pyramid of beer cans that quite literally took years to build into a bin liner, occasionally pausing to stare out of the window at the view I know so well, it dawns on me that the moment of adult responsibility is here, I’ve graduated…now I’ve got to decide what the heck to do with my life!?

My brain hurting at the infinite possibilities and paths to choose, I slip into a deep reverie remembering all the wonderful times i have had living and studying in Bangkok with Webster University Thailand. I think of the time I sat out on the street all night drinking beers with the motorbike taxi drivers of my Soi, speaking Thai together, laughing and joking and watching the world go by. The first time i watched a live Mor Lam music festival, the first time i ate Tom Yang Goong with the wonderful aromas of lemongrass and seafood combined, shielding the heat and spice that was about to hit me, all these fantastic memories flooded into my mind and left me in a state of daydream.

Soon snapping out of it, questions and decisions creep into my consciousness. What do i do now? Should I go home (I know perfectly well there is really nothing there for me anymore) Should i travel? Discover the world and myself while I’m doing it. At this point in my life i had already travelled to 16 countries, by car, by boat, by train, by foot, by bike, by car…i was already quite the Phileas Fogg. In all the countries and continents i had visited, none had stolen my heart as much Thailand.

Having made a great group of friends, and a wealth of contacts from the faculty, i made some inquiries about working in Thailand. It turns out there are a variety of opportunities for English speaking Westerners, particularly those armed with a degree and a little of bit of Thai language. Having always been a computer geek, and having just graduated with a BS in Computer Science, i started looking for positions in Digital Marketing and Computer Engineering.

JobsDB Thailand is a treasure trove of opportunity. I set about updating my CV and profile, and sending applications to companies with positions that interested. Weeks went by without a reply, my unwavering enthusiasm and belief was almost beginning to break…surely SOMEONE would reply soon? I kept at it, every day, searching, looking, sending, reaching out to anyone I could think of who could help me, or might know somebody who has a position vacant. My perseverance eventually paid off, when a Digital Marketing company got back to me with a position vacant, and i was invited to an interview.

I turn up to the interview at least 40 minutes early. That was my fathers teaching…”Better to be 1 hour early than 1 minute late” he would say. With 4pm looming, i enter the office at 3.55pm and tell the girl at reception i’m here about the Digital Marketing position. She know’s all about it and beckons me to sit and wait in the other room. I enter, and see three other Westerners in the room waiting. The two Directors eventually come into the room and welcome us, and very quickly quash any fears that we all may have with “Don’t worry, we have more than one position available…if you are ALL good, then we’ll employ all four of you!” This is a huge relief, the others look much older and better qualified, until that moment all i had going for me was I was better/smarter dressed than they were!

We are put through a series of teamwork exercises and tests, under the watchful gaze of the two Directors who are taking notes. After an hour of interviewing and testing, we are all thanked and told that they will be in touch with all of us very soon.

A couple of days went by, it felt like a lifetime. This had been the only company to get back to me, and with my funds running dangerously low, it was looking like this job was my last hope before throwing in the towel and leaving Thailand.

10.37am, Wednesday, November 24th, 2014…my phone started ringing. I didn’t know the number…

“Hi Nick it’s Tony,

We’d like to offer you the job. Are you able to start work on December 1st?”

“YES i most certainly am” i replied! We dicsussed start time and dress code, if i needed to bring anything, visa/passport etc, i thanked him heartily, told him i would see him bright and early December 1st and put down the phone. I GOT the job! I’m going to stay in Thailand, with a Work Permit, officially sanctioned by the government allowing me to live and work in this wonderful country and give a little back.

And here i am, 2 years later, still living in Bangkok, working for a great company, speaking fluent Thai, and unable to imagine going home or living anywhere else in the world.

Whether you’re a fresher just about to start your studying, or if you’ve just graduated and you’re staring out of the window wondering what to do with your life like i was, just follow your heart and follow your dreams, don’t listen to anyone who say’s you can’t, don’t give up, keep trying and you will succeed.